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Opinion

Pep Guardiola deserves one last shot at Champions League ... on one condition

At the second attempt, Pep Guardiola's side are eliminated in the semifinals of the Champions League. But DW's sports reporter Ross Dunbar feels the coach has earned one last crack in 2016.

Bayern Munich won't be able to add the European Cup to the trophy cabinet for the sixth time in their history. A 3-0 loss in the Camp Nou last Wednesday handed the Bavarians a mountainous task in the return leg and despite the overall defeat, Bayern can be proud of their efforts.

It means that Bayern's top dogs must settle for just the league championship this season after elimination in the semifinals of the German Cup last month. Following the 2012-13 treble under Jupp Heynckes, the 2013-14 double in Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola's first campaign, the lone honor from a grueling domestic season has divided opinion on the coach.

It's perspective that makes Bayern's recent achievements impressive - the German champions have reached the Champions League semifinals in four of the last five seasons. The manner of defeat is one thing at this stage, but in the main, losing to either of Spain's dominant two clubs is hardly an embarrassment for the club.

Prior to Bayern's golden run in the mid-1970s, Udo Lattek suffered elimination in the last-eight and made do with preparation in minor European tournaments. To break the chain of success from Ajax required a degree of realism and perspective - the continent-wide dominance of Barcelona and Real Madrid is on the same level at the moment.

Ross Dunbar

DW sports editor Ross Dunbar

Another shot on one condition

But the lack of savviness about the current Bayern team is surprising given achievements under Heynckes. Guardiola was left scarred by his own mistakes in his selection for the semifinal defeat to Real Madrid last season, the last-minute move from 4-2-3-1 to 4-2-4 leaving his side exposed against top-class opposition.

Similarly, the organization of Guardiola's defense has been suspect throughout this campaign. Zooming in on recent defeats, Bayern's rearguard has been penetrated with ease and that was clear to see in the 5-3 aggregate defeat to Barcelona.

What we all understand is that football is a constructive and destructive sport. There's no victory by simply attacking and scoring goals. What happens at the other end and without the ball is of paramount importance and you get a sense that this remains a taboo area for the Bayern boss.

Sometimes using nous and game management to squeeze the life out of a game with possession or a more concentrated defensive approach is the best policy. If Guardiola doesn't adapt his demands to suit, then the Bavarians will continue to be exposed.

Looking to the future

There are two caveats to discussing Bayern's short and medium-term future: the final season under Guardiola and the squad his successor will inherit in 2016. With five players at the age of 29 or older in the starting line-up and three central-midfielders on the wrong side of 30, Bayern needs a reconstruction at some point in the next 12-18 months.

An injury-free Thiago is set to take a more prominent role in the side next season with Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso struggling to match the intensity that Guardiola needs to compete at the highest level. Where those replacements stem from remains to be seen, but assuring the next coach that he has the tools to begin a new dynasty will be crucial.

In the meantime, Guardiola will see out one last year as Bayern coach. Fuelled by a will-to-win, the Spanish coach will be as determined as anybody on Säbener Strasse to bring Bayern back to the same stage next time around.

And with the minimum achieved - two championships - he's earned that last crack.

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